Council prefers commercial option for former Longreach Pastoral College
Longreach Regional Council has informed the Queensland Government it is unable to commit the required funding and resources to acquire the former Longreach Pastoral College.
The announcement follows a decision by the Queensland Government not to fund the business case put to it by the Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) last year. RAPAD currently has a permit-to-occupy that has been extended to mid 2022, and it is now unclear what will happen at the site when the permit runs out.
Mayor Tony Rayner said Council doesn’t have the means to purchase the assets and develop them.
“We gave this very careful consideration” he said. “Councillors and staff have left no stone unturned in arriving at this decision. We looked carefully at the whole-of-life financial implications, not just the purchase price, but the ongoing maintenance and repairs. We looked at the legislative hurdles, what we can and can’t do with the private sector, and we also looked at the RAPAD business case and what’s required to make it successful.
“In the end we just don’t have the money or expertise to do everything that needs to be done there.”
He said Council had asked the Government to carefully consider the economic and social development of the region when making its next move.
“We don’t know what will happen next, but it’s possible the government will sell the assets” he explained. “We’ve said to the government that if that’s what they’re going to do, we’d prefer they be offered to commercially viable entities in a way that will maximise the benefit to our region.
“Ultimately, we want to see those assets making a long-term contribution to our economy again.”
The permit-to-occupy held by RAPAD expires on 30 June next year. Since taking up occupancy at the former college, a number of short-term tenants have been attracted, including a Telstra call centre and small-scale slaughterhouse operation. The organisation has also accommodated numerous school groups and special event delegates using the well appointed dormitory buildings, dining halls, and amenities.
“It’s been a vital overflow accommodation facility for our town” Mayor Rayner said. “Our accommodation houses reach capacity very quickly during our peak season, and we need all the extra room-nights we can get to cater to our growing visitor demand.”
In addition to the former pastoral college campus, the assets include several valuable land holdings around the district, as well as plant and materials. One of the most valuable land parcels features a centre-pivot used to grow fodder, with a corresponding water allocation drawn directly from the nearby Thomson River. It is expected that in the event the assets are offered for commercial sale by the government, there will be no shortage of interested parties.
With both RAPAD and Longreach Regional Council now unable to proceed any further, the future of the facility and its assets once again rests with the Queensland Government.